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Showing posts from May, 2009

W-h-o C-a-r-e-s-?

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First, let's call it for what it is, not what its title is.

The National Spelling Bee has nothing to do with spelling.

Well, maybe a little bit. But only a little bit.

The Bee is, in fact, a test of one's memory. The ability to remember the order in which the letters of words that no child will ever use, come in.

It's a demanding, almost cruel ordeal we put the children through.

And what do they get out of it, exactly?

Nausea. Cold sweats. Fainting spells -- no pun intended. Wracked nerves.

Besides, the Indian-American kids seem to have this down pat, so why bother anymore?

This year's winner is a 13-year-old girl from Kansas who is now the seventh Indian-American child to win the event in the past 11 years.

Her name is Kavya Shivashankar.

“Spelling has been such a big part of my life,” said the Scripps Spelling Bee 2009 winner to the Associated Press. Kavya has been participating in national bees for several years, including the 2008 Scripps bee.

I'm sure she's a sweet g…

Gas Pains

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Time was, you could pull into a gas station and be reasonably certain that your brethren in other cars were there to do one thing, pretty much.

Buy gas, that is.

In fact, I remember when you didn't even have to leave your car to fill up.

"Full serve", they call it now.

Back then, it was just "serve" -- one kind.

Sit tight. For here comes Mr. Attendant, striding up to your vehicle.

"Fill it up, regular," my dad would say.

And that's what Mr. Attendant did.

While the gas was pumping, the windshield was being cleaned. Front and back.

Air in the tires was being checked.

If you asked, the hood would be looked under, as well.

Not "full serve."

Just, "serve."

Sometimes, if they were in a really generous mood, the gas stations would thank you for stopping by.

A free set of knives.

Some maps.

And other goodies.

Buying gas now is an ordeal. And not just because of the prices, which, if they were afforded movie ratings, would be NC-17. And inching toward …

Near Total Recall

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I'll pick you up at the Stroh's plant after work, then we'll ride on our Uniroyal tires to Cunningham's Drugs for a milkshake. Better yet, a Vernor's float.

Speaking of beverages, I'm running low on Towne Club pop, so can we stop at the distribution outlet? I have my case of empty bottles in the trunk.

Then it'll be off to Great Scott! for a few groceries.

If you're good, I'll treat you to dinner downtown at the Rattlesnake Club.

After a day at Bob-Lo, of course.

Who says you can't go home anymore?

You can do it in your mind. All the time. Whenever suits your fancy.

I've pedaled my bike to Cunningham's, but for the baseball cards in the dispensing machine near the registers. Then I've traded them right out front, amidst the passers-by, with my friends.

Meet me at the Kern Clock. And while we're nearby, you can do some Father's Day shopping for me at Hudson's.

Lord help us if we ever lose the ability to have memories.

It's what …

What a Roll!

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Too few things in life are certain, and the ones that are, aren't pleasant.

Death.

Taxes.

Dick Cheney.

And, the house always wins.

For Pat DeMauro, she took that last one and said, "Nuh-uh!"

DeMauro is a New Jersey grandmother who, in the words of craps-shooting expert Dominic "The Dominator" Loriggio, performed the equivalent of making 500 straight free throws or rolling three straight 300 perfect games in bowling.

DeMauro plunked down $100 at a $10 minimum table, grabbed the craps dice at the Borgata hotel casino in Atlantic City on Saturday and started rolling.

And rolling.

And rolling.

For four hours.

"It was great. Everyone was chanting my name and clapping and I was dancing," DeMauro said, laughing, as she talked to CNN.

In craps, rolling a seven can be very bad. And rolling a seven, mathematically, has a chance of occurring once every six rolls.

That's what makes DeMauro's feat all the more amazing.

She broke the mark of 3:06 set in 1989 by Stanley F…

Daddy Dearest

William Cunningham just got slapped with 100 years of prison time.

He got off lightly, if you ask me.

Cunningham is a Georgia man.

Correction. He's from Georgia.

But he's no man.

Cunningham was sentenced Thursday after a jury found him guilty on seven counts of aggravated assault for forcing his children in 2006 to eat soup laced with prescription drugs and lighter fluid.

Yep, you read correctly.

Not even in my most vile moods could I have concocted that as a tall tale.

Cunningham's motive was to have the kids, ages three years and 18 months at the time, ingest the poisoned Campbell's soup so that he could extort money from the company after they fell ill.

He did it not once, but three times.

“The third time, he forced it down them and this is the one that put the kids in the hospital and made them deathly sick,” said Ron Dockery, the children’s grandfather.

No, 100 years ain't enough.

How about some flogging, or some daily cell visits from brutes who'd like to make Cunnin…

Sorry, Charlie

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Forget the women and children.

It's governors first.

If you live in Florida, that is.

Republican governor Charlie Crist of the Sunshine State is making a run for Senate in 2010.

So far, so good. Who's to keep any man--or woman--from advancing any career?

But part of Crist's motive, it's being reported, isn't so admirable.

Charlie Crist wants to move into the Senate because, frankly, the heat's too high in the kitchen in Tallahassee.

"I think Gov. Crist realizes that this is a pretty good time to leave the governor's chair, with all the unemployment and the state in massive debt," one of the politcal analysts said on MSNBC last week.

Well!

So your governor is a bailer, huh, Floridians?

It's time to become a Senator because the state's going down in flames?

My, that's some loyalty to your people, eh?

Now compare Crist to our guv in Michigan, Jenny Granholm.

It was posed to Granholm during the transition from President Bush to Obama whether she'd …

The "Other" F-Word

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My goodness, now they're even calling Miley Cyrus the F-word.

Fat.

And, good for little Miley, she's fighting back.

Miley is 16 years old. She's a pop star, the daughter of one-time pop star/turned actor Billy Ray Cyrus.

Those are the facts.

Now, the opinions.

Seems some photos of Miley hit the Net that showed her in a bikini.

Even little Miley made a crack on Twitter about her jiggly-ness in the photos.

Then the hounds were released.

The Internet wonks started deriding little Miley for her body. Used the F word. A lot.

So little Miley fought back.


NOT fat. And so what if she was?


She posted on her Twitter: "Talk all you want. I have my flaws. I'm a normal girl. There's things about my body that I would change but stop with calling me f*t in post. I don't even like the word."

Obviously, by the way she gave it genuine F-word status by refusing to even spell it out.

She went on. It's OK to yell, "You go, girl!" as you read.

"Those remarks that you h…

Peter the Great

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Peter Sellers has been dead for almost 30 years, and I'm still not over it.

First, I don't cry when people die. I just don't. Even after my own father passed away, in 1996 from a heart attack, I only broke down once.

I'm not saying that to be boastful or even proud. Just the way I am.

So I certainly never cried after Sellers, the great comedic actor, died from heart disease in 1980.

But I'm still not over it.

Sellers was, simply, the funniest man in the world. Don't even argue with me about this. His work in the Pink Panther movie franchise, plus all the good stuff beforehand, in the 1960s, was nothing short of genius.

Sellers, as Inspector Clouseau, was one of the most unusually funny characters in cinematic history.

At once lucky, stupid, foolish, intuitive, and heroic, Sellers' Clouseau was so funny that you couldn't keep up with the laughs. At least I couldn't.

I love Steve Martin to death, and I think he's contributed mightily to the well-being of …

Twin Pining

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Time, once again, to show my age.

I tend to do that a lot here, I know.

So anyone under 30, turn away, unless you don't mind being subjected to yet another tale of yesteryear.

I miss the Twin Pines guy.

There. I said it.

He used to bring you milk, the Twin Pines guy did, and tons of other good stuff.

Laid it on your doorstep, and prior to that, put it in your milk chute.

Whoa!

Yeah, you read correctly, under-30-yearsers.

The milk chute.

Some homes still have them, though by now they're likely painted shut.

The brick ranches and tri-levels that sprang up in the late-1950s, early-1960s like mushrooms all had milk chutes built into them, just about.

Usually located on the side of the building, the chute was a two-way deal: it opened on the outside so the Twin Pines guy (or whomever delivered your milk and dairy) could fill it with goodies. And it opened from the inside of the house, so you could retrieve and place immediately into the fridge.

No, I didn't say icebox. I'm not that old.

House's Arrest

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So what do you say when you're released from death row after 22 years, for a crime that you maintain you didn't commit?

"Took 'em long enough."

Those were the words of Paul House, who was convicted in 1986 of the rape and murder of Carolyn Muncey in Tennessee and then sentenced to die.

So let's release him and immediately nominate him for Understatement of the Year.

State prosecutors on Tuesday asked a judge to drop all charges against House. Special Judge Jon Blackwood accepted the request.

House's cause was championed by a group called The Innocence Project, which is affiliated with the Cardozo School of Law in New York.

It took the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved, though.

House was scheduled to be re-tried next month, nearly three years after the high court ruled, 5-3, that he was entitled to a new hearing.

"Although the issue is closed, we conclude that this is the rare case where -- had the jury heard all the conflicting testimony -- it is more likel…

F the Troops

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One of these days, someone's going to drop Gordon Ramsay on his ass, and then you'll never hear from him again.

Here's hoping.

Ramsay is a TV chef, but with an attitude. A seriously bad attitude.

I remember when you could hardly say "pregnant" on television. You had to hint about it, using words like "expecting". Maybe "bun in the oven" would have been acceptable.

Then George Carlin, some 30 years or so ago, did a famous comedy bit about the seven dirty words you couldn't say on radio or TV. He was even arrested for having said them during a performance.

Imagine that.

I don't really watch Ramsay's show. I have a hard time concentrating on anything where the audio is so full of the censor's beeps that it sounds like someone playing songs on a touch-tone phone.

Ramsay's routine is this. He goes to restaurants across the world--invited, incredibly--and his aim is to find out why said restaurant is foundering. Then he goes to work to …

What's On? Beats Me

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I don't watch a lot of TV anymore.

Mainly because I don't know when anything is on.

It's all there, and yet it isn't--the television at my disposal.

I watch sports, mainly because I know when the games are played, and thus when they're being shown on the telly.

I used to know when my favorite TV shows were on.

Now, I have no clue when anything is on. And I don't have the time or the patience to bother finding out, I guess.

My mother is far more TV savvy than I am. She has favorite shows, some of which sound terrific, if only I knew when they were being broadcast.

But she knows, and since she's sans a DVR or TiVo, that means she has to plunk her butt on the chair and tune in, as scheduled.

And she does. Apparently.

There was a time, before cables invaded our homes, when I knew darn well when the "good shows" were on.

You only had to keep track of ABC, CBS, and NBC, you know.

Next time you see someone under the age of 30, tell them that once there were only th…

Especial K

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It had been, until last week to me, as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.

No, not talking about Chevrolet--for they've been less and less American for years now. Just like their other Big Two-and-a-Half brethren.

Heck, let's play a little word association.

What flutters through your mind when I say "Kellogg's"?

Frosted Flakes?

Special K?

Tony the Tiger?

GrrrrrEATT!!??

Just some suggestions. Perhaps you thought, simply, cereal. Or Battle Creek, MI., where they make the stuff. The cereal capital of the world.

HA!!

Kellogg's is off-loading the manufacturing of some of their product south of the border. And I don't mean the Mason-Dixon Line.

My wife picked up a box of Special K cereal bars the other day. They looked yummy, based on the photo, though it was "enlarged for detail."

And only 90 calories per bar. Not that I'm counting. With my waistline, you'd need a calculator if you wanted to do so. At the very least, an abacus.

These days, thou…

California Screamin'

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Why anyone would want to live in California is beyond me.

And I know a few of them who do, personally.

But I don't know why they live there, necessarily. Just that they do.

There are wildfires raging in California right now, as we (sorta) speak.

There's always something raging in California. Or sliding. Or choking off the air flow. Or trembling.

Living in California, with its endless array of wildfires, brush fires, smog, mudslides and earthquakes must be akin to residing in one huge, twisted amusement park. Or an Irwin Allen disaster movie.

Not to mention all the weirdos in the movie industry walking around.

I'm all for experiencing nature, but I prefer to do it in my native Michigan, which admittedly has lost some of its luster, too, lately.

We used to have four seasons here--and they were very dilineated. And beautiful, in their own way.

Now we have four seasons--sometimes in the same day.

Lately I've noticed a phenomenon by which it's sunny, yet raining. Been happening m…

He Hart My Mug

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I wonder what Bill Hart did with my coffee mug.

All this talk of Detroit politics, in the glow of the special mayoral election held on Tuesday because of Kwame Kilpatrick's ousting, got me to thinking of other disgraced high profile types the city has known.

I sat across from Police Chief William Hart in October, 1989, and the man seemed awfully stiff, I recall.

Hart was the first African-American police chief in Detroit, and I was getting ready to interview him on a local cable TV show I hosted called Innerview. Note the play on words. Boy, I was clever back in the day!

The show was biographical, and the cameras were all trained on the guest. We did it in an artsy-fartsy way, a format I copycatted from an old A&E show, the title of which escapes me.

The viewer saw nothing but the guest for 30 minutes, in an array of dissolves and various camera angles and points of focus: hand gestures, eyes, slow pans, etc. My face only flashed on the screen during the intro and outro.

The guest l…

Mayor Bing

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Turns out that Dave Bing had one more fourth quarter rally left in him, after all.

Former NBA star Bing, behind in the polls by all reports as recently as late last week, charged to victory in Tuesday's special mayoral election in Detroit.

Bing beat incumbent Ken Cockrel, Jr., 52-48 percent.

So Bing is finally Detroit's mayor--some 20 years or so since he could have had the job, had he wanted it.

The city's Kwame Kilpatrick-induced nightmare is nearing an end.

Like I've written before, the residents of Detroit were actually set up not to be screwed this time. Their choices, Bing and Cockrel, were pretty good. Cockrel offered stability, Bing offered vision.

Both are good, but these times call for vision. And urgency.

Bing is 65. He's already made a difference in people's lives, via his Bing Steel business and his noble efforts to house folks in the city.

But you can only do so much when you're not the mayor, and Bing saw Rome burning and too much fiddling going on.

M…

Dom-De-Doody-Dom

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I don't know when I last saw Dom DeLuise, but I can assure you one thing.

He was most likely smiling.

DeLuise, the rotund actor/food enthusiast, passed away Monday, in his sleep, according to reports. He was 75.

I don't remember ever seeing DeLuise not smiling. He was a jolly, big man with a case of the giggles, particularly when working with longtime film castmate Burt Reynolds.

One of the staples of Reynolds/DeLuise movies was the inclusion of bloopers during the closing credits. Usually they involved DeLuise, laughing so hard that tears were rolling down his face, as Reynolds would try to get Dom to straighten up by slapping him across the face.

Naturally, that only made Dom laugh even harder. And I think Burt knew that would be the result. Maybe he just liked slapping DeLuise's big, round, bearded face.

One of the funniest films you'll ever see, and trust me on this, is something called The End, the story of a man (played by Reynolds) who's hell bent on killing himse…

Gored

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Warning!! Today's post is graphic.

Just my words, today, will make you squirm and feel nauseous.

You won't need actual images, though one of them will find its way here, a bit later on. But that's an Etch-a-Sketch compared to what I will write about.

This is the story of a young girl who took her dad's Porsche out for a joyride, possibly amped up on cocaine, and crashed it, killing herself in the process.

That sentence, alone, conjours up some not-so-pleasant images in the mind's eye.

But I can assure you that anything you're cooking up in your brain, even with the most vivid imagination, is child's play compared to the actual images captured from this horrific event.

Nikki Catsouras was an 18-year-old Orange County, CA girl who, in a fit of anger and defiance, took her father's Porsche and tooled it down the freeway at speeds upwards of 100 MPH. It was Halloween afternoon, 2006.

She clipped another car, lost control, and slammed the Porsche into a very unmovi…

Kelly Girl

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Kelly McGillis is a lesbian.

Says she's "done with the man thing." Her words.

McGillis, the actress whose visage leaped from the screen in the movie Top Gun, as Tom Cruise's squeeze, and who later showed her acting chops in an underrated film called Witness, starring Harrison Ford, has confirmed rumors that she prefers those of her own gender when it comes to physical intimacy.

Let's get something straight, right off the bat. I couldn't care less who's gay or lesbian or straight or bi or whatever else ya got. Lord knows they may have been inventing things since I've been on the dating scene.

A person's sexual preference doesn't define him or her, in my eyes.

McGillis told the media that she started to wonder about herself around age twelve. Something about her wasn't like other girls, apparently.

Yet she grew up, pursued an acting career, and even got married and gave birth to a couple of children.

Not sure how, when, or why the lesbian rumors go…